Western Sydney Regional Economic Development and Community Education

Western Sydney
Regional Economic Development
and Community Education

The Community Colleges Australia (CCA) Western Sydney regional economic development project investigates the contributions that NSW community colleges make to the economic development of that region, and how these contributions can be expanded to improve the region’s development. The project aims to ensure that the NSW Government can use the capacity of the NSW community education providers in Western Sydney, supporting economic development and providing new program models and linkages.

Thirteen community education providers currently operate in Greater Western Sydney: The Parramatta College, Macquarie Community College, Nepean Community College, Macarthur Community College, JobQuest, MTC Australia, the Deaf Society, VERTO, Sydney Community College, Bankstown Community College (BCCI), Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Community College, St George & Sutherland Community College and Jesuit Social Services (Jesuit Community College). Together these organisations supply a valuable economic development resource for Western Sydney, a resource that is not yet not fully utilised. This project is intended to realise this potential.

Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Skills Forum

CCA organised a Western Sydney regional economic development skills forum in Parramatta on 26 October 2018 in Parramatta, with more than 70 participants from community education providers, regional not-for-profit community organisations, NSW Department of Industry, local councils, peak business and industry groups, and other post-secondary education providers. Speakers included Zoe De Saram, Deputy Secretary, Skills & Economic Development, NSW Department of Industry; Kerry Robinson, General Manager of Blacktown City Council; Michael Cullen, Regional General Manager, Western Sydney, TAFE NSW; Julie Scott, Manager Economic Development, Liverpool City Council; Nicolene Murdoch, CEO Western Sydney University - The College; Billie Sankovic, CEO Western Sydney Community Forum; Therese O'Dwyer, Executive Officer, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sydney Paula Abood, CALD Coordinator, Sydney Region, TAFE NSW & Dennis Smith, CALD Coordinator, Western Sydney Region, TAFE NSW; Sam Stewart, Policy & Advocacy Officer, The Committee for Sydney; Theresa Collignon, CEO, Macquarie Community College; Ka Chan, Manager of JobQuest; and Terry Rawnsley, SGS Economics and Planning, who presented the results of a CCA-commissioned study that analyses Western Sydney’s demography and skills base, and the role of community providers.

Click here for a report on the outcomes of the Parramatta Forum.

Click here to view copies of the presentations made at the Forum.

Why Western Sydney?

Western Sydney is Australia’s third largest economy, after Sydney and Melbourne central business districts. It has numerous economic attractions and advantages, notably a rapidly growing Parramatta central business district, the planned Badgerys Creek airport, rich rural and agricultural lands, historical sites, important recreational and sporting facilities, great bushland and World Heritage-listed wildernesses in the Blue Mountains, the Hawkesbury- Nepean river system, and its own university – the multi-campus Western Sydney University.

Despite a booming population growth, the region’s economy has been unable to keep up, with the ratio of jobs to residents falling consistently since the year 2000. More than 2.2 million people live in greater Western Sydney, 35% of them born overseas, from more than 170 countries and speaking more than 100 languages. Many of the economic challenges that face regional and rural NSW also face Western Sydney, including:

  • lack of transport accessibility, especially to centres of employment but also to other services, frequently necessitating long commutes and extensive reliance on automotive travel;
  • locally significant unemployment, especially among young people, Indigenous people and new migrants;
  • significant pockets of poverty and disadvantage; and
  • an economy heavily reliant on manufacturing and other 20th century industries, which are expected to continue to decline over the next 20 years.

The pockets of disadvantage can be profound, with some of the most deprived areas in Australia. Bernard Salt describes “an arc of adversity” that ranges from Granville through Fairfield to Cabramatta to west of Liverpool. Bernard Salt writes:

More than a century ago urban disadvantage clustered … in Sydney’s Redfern, within walking distance of factories. Across the course of two generations the poor of the inner city have been propelled outward as if by some centrifugal force to the city’s edges, to Cabramatta…. That force is a confluence of megatrends that transferred manufacturing jobs to Guangzhou and that rewarded knowledge workers with the exquisite amenity of the inner city.

“With one million more people expected to live west of Homebush by 2031, Western Sydney’s population will grow by almost 50% in just over 15 years,” says the report Shaping Future Cities - Designing Western Sydney: A blueprint for the economic transformation of Western Sydney (Deloitte, December 2015, p. 27).

The report identifies “seven key drivers for creating jobs”, including lifting workforce participation rates to “support disadvantaged groups through training and work transitions, creating a more balanced and equitable city” (p. 5). NSW not-for-profit adult and community education organisations have a crucial role to play in ensuring that the region has the necessary infrastructure to prosper, as an instrument for this job creation driver.

These macro-economic forces are only part of the many challenges that face Western Sydney. Given that one in ten Australians lives in Western Sydney, its importance to Australia’s economic well-being and future prosperity cannot be overstated.

CCA is undertaking this project to ensure that the Western Sydney becomes a stronger and more connected region. We intend that this project will increase the region’s post-secondary education and training capacity and accessibility, conducted in local centres by the region’s adult and community education providers.

About the Project Logo

The logo for the Western Sydney Regional Economic Development Project symbolises the Blue Mountains – visible from almost everywhere in the region – and the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system, which encircles metropolitan Sydney.

CCA acknowledges that our October 26th Forum in Parramatta took place on the land of the Darug people, the traditional owners of this land. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who now reside in the area.

About this Project

This project has been funded by the NSW Department of Industry, and will conclude by December 2018. Click here for CCA’s April 2018 full Statement on Western Sydney (PDF).